Strictly Prohibited

Inspired by my yearly responsibility of proctoring the ACT test.

Welcome to test room 3B.

Please note that the following actions are strictly prohibited:

Eating, drinking, or the use of tobacco are not permitted in the test room.
Neither is talking, smiling, thinking, or breathing.
If you are caught doing any of these things, your test materials will be confiscated and scored with the incorrect answer key.

You may not have a cell phone, media player, or other electronic, steam-powered, or psycho-kinetic device with you in the test room.
All such items will be confiscated, used by the test room proctor to keep them awake during testing, and then smashed to pieces in front of you after you have finished testing.

You may not fill in or alter ovals on a test section after time has been called.
Ovals are very sensitive and only like being touched at the specified times.

Do not look back at a previous test, forward to the next test, or into the pit of your soul.
It is dark there and full of repressed memories.

No giving or receiving assistance by any means, including but not limited to the following:
Passing notes, looking at another’s answer sheet, sending messages via carrier pigeon or smoke signal—smoking, as we have already discussed, is strictly prohibited—or via psychic or supernatural means.

You must not use your calculator on any test other than the mathematics or quantum physics test.
Doing so will cause your immortal soul to be trapped forever within the device.
Calculators are not a thing to be trifled with.

You will be provided a break between hours 12 and 13 of testing.
All testing materials must remain in the test room during this time.
Attempts to remove test materials, personal effects or your shell of a human form will result in becoming lost within the labyrinth of hallways outside Room 3B.

You may only leave when told to do so.
Testing facilitators and the test company itself are not responsible for loss of property, limbs, or sanity.

Please do not exhibit confrontational, threatening, or unruly behavior.
Save such behavior for the combat proficiency portion of today’s testing.

You may wear a wrist or neck watch.
However, be sure to turn off all alarms or carbon monoxide detection functions.
If an alarm sounds, you will be instantly encased in The Zone of Silence, where your carbon monoxide alarm will suit only as an annoyance during your final, peaceful moments of life.

Above all else, please follow the directions for each test very carefully.
Test booklets are known to provide directions in the form of riddles and sometimes include ancient summoning rituals.

If there are no questions, we wish you the best of luck during today’s tests!
Please turn your answer booklet to page 2 and fill out boxes 4-12.
Include all contact information of your loved ones and your preferred method of bodily disposal.

Fill in all corresponding ovals very carefully.

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Creative Progress

Things have been going well here creatively over the last few weeks.  If only I could gather the mental strength to do the same in preparation of my 8th year of teaching high school and second year of college.

I’m currently drafting the third episode of what should hopefully be a 10-12 episode series for my upcoming podcast, Shadowvane.  If you want more information on the project or to be kept up to date, please visit Shadowvane.net and follow @Shadowvanecast on Twitter.

The goal is to have at least four or five episodes completed and edited by the middle of August.  From there, we’ll be starting the process of holding casting for the various roles.  As it stands right now, there are three recurring major characters in this story as well as several smaller parts.  We will be searching for reliable voice actors to send us high quality recordings throughout the next several months.  We cannot offer anything in the way of compensation since the project is free to the public, but if things go well, it can serve as a valuable production to add to any resume.

More information on the upcoming casting will be available later this month.

Aside from that, it’s that time of year when teachers all around the world are gearing up to go back to the profession that they have put their hearts and souls into.  Whether you are a novice or a long-time teacher, I offer nothing but encouragement.  Let’s make this the best year yet for our profession and our students.

And now I leave you all with a bit of wisdom:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.” -Mahatma Gandhi

New Writing Project – Short Story Collection

Long time no write!  This comes to you during one of the most taxing times in any teacher’s life–the days leading up to spring break.  This semester has been surprisingly very difficult for me, and I’ve felt far too much stress and doubt in my abilities.

So my mind has been pretty absorbed into grading essays, planning lessons, editing yearbook and newspaper pages, and trying to get students interested in just about anything over the last few weeks.  So that’s left my free time and creative life floundering somewhat.

I would say that the release of my chapbook, Chasing Distant Horizons (only $2.49 for the pdf), was somewhat of a success.  If anything, it gave me the confidence to achieve something as grand as self-publishing, if only on a small scale.  Add to that my recent flattering comments on my submission for the Dark Crystal Author Quest, and I’ve found some positivity with regards to my writing.

So I need a new project.  I need something to breath more life under my creative sails.  That’s when I went back to something I spent a very long time on.

As some of you may know, I wrote a complete fantasy novel and have spent a lot of time off and on editing that sucker.  There are still substantial things to be done, and one day I really do hope to see it find the light of day.  That being said, I thought about the editing process and how I haven’t revisited the world in some time.

That’s when the idea hit me.  What if I wrote a series of short stories that fleshed out elements of the world and characters.  The thread that holds all the stories together would ultimately be the world that I’ve crafted in my fantasy novel.

So I’m working on a rough (very rough) draft of a short story, which will be hopefully the first of many.  This story centers around one of the main characters from the novel, a half-elven lazy drunkard by the name of Isac.  In the novel, Isac has little desire to do much else than wallow in his home, waste away at the tavern, and ignore the rest of the world around him.  The story I’m drafting tells how he discovered he has special powers and how he loathes everything about it.

Here’s a small bit of the rough draft.  I hope you enjoy. [Click below to read it.  I don’t want to take over people’s feed.]

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The Waiting Game

Back in June 2010, I started a scary new transition from teaching to being a student.  I remember being stricken with fear as I waited to hear back from Western Illinois University as to whether I’d be accepted into their English Graduate program.

Over three years later, here I am waiting with baited breath once again.  This time I’ve reached the culmination of my Masters program, and I now await the news of whether my thesis project will be good enough to pass or if I’ll be forced to go back and do yet more work.
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